by RACHEL BENOUDIZ
On Thursday, April 8, residents of Eagle Landing received an email from the Office of Residence Life and Housing informing them of the high concentration of COVID-19 cases in the residence hall. If COVID-19 conditions become severe, the University may choose to quarantine the entire residence hall as a last resort.
The email, sent from assistant dean for Residence Life and Housing David Fleming, states, “We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 trends across UMW’s campus and recent positive cases coming out of Eagle Landing and the increased number of close contacts has the COVID Monitoring and Tracing Team focusing attention on your community.”
If the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Eagle Landing, the University may choose to quarantine the entire residence hall, according to Fleming.
“There is a contingency where a whole building could be quarantined,” said Fleming.
However, this option is not the first choice of the University.
“It is certainly a last resort option since it would create significant disruption to students and require a lot of resources to implement,” said Fleming. “[Quarantining Eagle Landing] would be the very last option we would consider as an institution and likely only if the Department of Health required us to do so.”
This high concentration of COVID cases in Eagle Landing came as a surprise to junior psychology major Aylen-Castro Martinez, a resident assistant (RA) for Eagle Landing.
“I pretty much heard about it when they sent out the email,” said Castro-Martinez, who was unaware of the high COVID cases. She said she “thought it was super weird because you think people would be talking about it.”
As of April 15, the UMW COVID Dashboard reported nine active cases, with 74 out of the 84 quarantine spaces available.
Although Fleming said that UMW “confirms residential addresses of all cases and close contacts,” it is unknown how many cases are from Eagle Landing residents.
“There was an uptick in positive cases and associated close contacts, and we thought it was prudent to get ahead of any potential crisis by asking Eagle Landing students to recommit to MMDC,” said Fleming.
Regardless of the uptick in cases, Eagle Landing will not have any extra precautions enforced, and they will still follow regular MMDC protocol.
“We trust that these efforts, in concert with ongoing monitoring and education, will continue to mitigate risk in Eagle Landing and the rest of the campus community,” said Fleming.
Kathryn Ragone, a junior studio art major in the College of Education and Eagle Landing resident, talked about adherence to the MMDC policy in Eagle Landing.
“Masks, I think most people follow it, but I have seen some who don’t. But the distance [rule] I think is the one people break the most,” said Ragone.
The email from Residence Life urged Eagle Landing residents to continue following MMDC through the last few weeks of the semester.
“We are so close to the end of the semester and we want to make sure we can reach the finish line without significant disruption to the academic mission of the institution,” the email said. “With the warmer weather, athletic competitions taking place, commencement approaching and the overall length of this pandemic, it is easy to become relaxed in our efforts to practice these mitigation strategies. We know the highest transmission occurs when individuals believe they are in a safe space, often with family or close friends, and in settings where eating is taking place. It becomes natural for us to believe we can forego wearing a mask while in the company of a small circle of friends or while visiting home on the weekend. It is important that we don’t let our guard down.”
The University will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and ask residents to follow MMDC protocols and remain safe.